This is a reprint of my review which
was published on this blog in April 2012, with a number of minor revisions. That version of the review can be found here. Also be sure to check out the Movie Hour podcast on the film from June 2012 here.
A Clockwork Orange (UK, 1971)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Malcolm McDowell, James Marcus, Warren Clarke, Michael Tarn
IMDb Top 250: #76 (30/11/14)
BFI Top 100: #81 (1999)
Picking Stanley Kubrick's greatest film is like trying to choose between a series of perfectly formed diamonds. Every time you revisit one of his films, in whatever order or context, you gravitate towards that offering as his masterpiece - only to swiftly change your mind having seen the next one. Such is the master's skill in almost every genre that it is hard to pick one which either epitomises said skill or accurately represents his oeuvre.
Blade Runner more than a decade later, the visual world of A Clockwork Orange is conceived as the future that might result if certain aspects of our present are extrapolated. With Ridley Scott's film, it is the threat of overpopulation, the environmental problems that would result, the intensification of social hierarchies, and the loss of humanity in a world dominated by machines. With Kubrick, it is the alienation of youth, the dehumanisation of mankind, and most chillingly the acceptance of the latter as a form of punishment or control.
Blade Runner isn't suddenly rendered irrelevant by the current absence of flying cars. The moral questions raised in this film are still controversial, and our society is no more enlightened or mature in its conceptions of justice, freedom or possible punishments.
If...., he was the natural choice for the part, and even without his immense reputation he is simply perfect for every second he is on screen. His snarling, boyish looks, precocious posture and fabulous voice are all immaculate, and once you have seen him in that iconic costume, no-one else can ever carry it off.
For even more on A Clockwork Orange, check out these Letters of Note posts here and here. Also be sure to check out my tribute to Warren Clarke, who died earlier this month.
NEXT REVIEW: Stick It (2006)